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Colorful moss on rocks

Moss, Fungus, Lichens: The Origins of Life in Embroidery


A beach walker inspired by the undersea world, Emily Wright stitches a galaxy of organic and improbable color.

From the time Emily Wright was a child, the beach has inspired a profound fascination. An observer of its stones, of the life that forms in the damp, the Manchester resident has been enchanted by the mosses, lichens, molds, and pristine life forms that thrive in such places.

Wright began by capturing the colors, textures, and shapes she saw in life forms as old as any on Earth. But she’s not content with photographing them, nor even with merely drawing them. Rather, she captures them in a more conventional format: colorful embroideries which, in viewers, induce yet more visions of the microworlds.

Natural environments are amazing once you start looking closely! It’s incredible how many different colours and textures you can find, even on just one rock! Once you start looking, you start to see these patterns and colours all around your own environment and it can be really amazing.

Through her Instagram account, Wright has shared the miniature landscapes of the beaches she’s visited, and the embroideries they’ve inspired. Although she began creating them only in 2018, her profile already has nearly 60,000 followers. There seems to be something in the designs that evoke their very origins and that draw the human gaze.

The sea, and everything near it, makes me very very happy. It’s calming and is really good for your mental health. It is also really interesting – for example you can find lichens and moss on a small beach in Wales in the UK, and then speak to someone in Canada or Australia who has found the same type which I find really fascinating.

On the mix of natural inspiration and embroidery, a thousand-year-old technique, and their shared need for rescue, Wright says:

Going back in history, embroidery and tapestry work was the main way history was recorded in a lot of different countries, and it was mostly men! Over the years, it has been seen more as “women’s work” and has definitely been overlooked creatively. I think it’s important to bring it back and show it off for the skill that it is. 


Yellow moss on rocksMoss embroideryMoss embroidery 2


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